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Pueblo of Santa Ana Grant

by J. J. Bowden

The Pueblo of Santa Ana, one of the Indian settlements of the ancient Queres Nation, is situated on the north bank of Jemez River about eight miles southeast of the Pueblo of Zia. It was visited by Governor Juan de Onate in 1598 and, shortly thereafter, became the seat of a Spanish mission. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, its inhabitants assisted in the massacre of several priests at the Pueblo of Santo Domingo and many of the colonists living in the upper Rio Grande Valley. Its location some distance from the Rio Grande temporarily saved the Pueblo from the reprisal of the Spaniards, but in 1687 Governor Pedro Reneres de Posada took it by storm and burned it to the ground. The homeless Indians settled at the Cerro Colorado, which was located about eighteen miles north of the ruined village. Governor Diego de Vargas coaxed them to return and rebuild the settlement in 1692.[1]

General Stephen Watts Kearny’s topographical engineer, Lieutenant James W. Abert, passed through the Pueblo of Santa Ana. In his report, under date of October 12, 1846, he states:

The Jemez Valley is very sandy; the bed of the stream is three-quarters of a mile in width, contains, in many places, no water, and when it is found, it is of a dark red color. After marching five miles up the Jemez, we reached the Pueblo of “St. Ana.” The village was almost entirely deserted, all the inhabitants being engaged at Ranchito gathering their corn. e had much trouble to get wood for our fires and fodder “or, our mules; there was no grass to be seen anywhere in the vicinity.[2]

Pursuant to the notice[3] of the Surveyor General William Pelham dated January 18, 1855, which directed the owners of Spanish and Mexican land grants to present their claims to his office for examination, the inhabitants of the Pueblo of Santa Ana filed their grant. Pelham, in his Annual Report[4] dated September 30, 1855, states:

The grants made by the government of Spain to the pueblos of Silla, Santa Ana, San Juan, Jemez, and Pecos, have been filed, examined and approved by this office.

However, the claim was never submitted to Congress and subsequent reports and correspondence from the Surveyor General’s office contained no reference to the Pueblo of Santa Ana. As a consequence, Congress took no action on the grant. Being unable to understand why the claims of the other pueblos had been confirmed and theirs continuously ignored, the Indians of the Pueblo of Santa Ana, on October 3, 1866, requested[5] Surveyor General John A. Clark to investigate the matter. In response to their petition, Clark examined the files in his office and was unable to find any record of the grant or any evidence, except the statement contained in Pelham’s Report, that it had been filed and approved. Therefore, he held a hearing in order to determine the validity of the claim. At this hearing, the testimony of a number of reputable an disinterested witnesses was taken which showed that there was a tradition that the pueblo had received a grant from the Spanish Government for a like quantity of land and in the same manner as the other Indian pueblos. Clark also noted that the archives contained a number of references to the grant. Since he was satisfied that the pueblo had a valid claim to a tract of two square leagues of land with the church as its center and discovering no reason why Pelham should mysteriously have dropped the claim after having approved it, Clark, in a report[6] dated January 5, 1867, recommended its confirmation. Upon receipt of Clark’s report the house referred the matter to its Committee on Private Land Claims. The committee found that notwithstanding the complete absence of title papers evidencing the existence of a valid grant, the oral evidence showed that the pueblo was “a very ancient one, having an existence as far back perhaps as the time of conquest, and that it has been in continuous occupancy of the Indians ever since.” Therefore, the committee stated that it had no hesitation in recommending the confirmation of the claim and accordingly reported a bill for that purpose.[7] This action was taken by Congress on February 9, 1869.[8] The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyors Sawyer & McBroom in August, 1876, for 17,360.56 acres. The land was patented to the Indians on April 25, 1883.[9]

Since the land was bleak and sterile, the Indians suffered little or no encroachment from non‑Indians. The grant is used primarily for grazing purposes, and the Indians raise the crops necessary for their support on the Ranchito Grant which they purchased in 1709.[10]


[1] 2 Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, 454 (1962).

[2] S. Exec. Doc. No. 23, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 71 (1848).

[3] H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 34th Cong., 1st Sess., 305 336 (1855)

[4] Ibid., 303.

[5] The Pueblo of Santa Ana Grant, No. T (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[6] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 13, 40th Cong., 1st Sess., 2 (1867).

[7] H. R. Report No. 70, 40th Cong., 2d Sess., 3 (1869).

[8] An Act to Confirm the Title to Certain Land to the Pueblo of Santa Ana, in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 26, 15 Stat. 438 (1869).

[9] The Pueblo of Santa Ana Grant, No. T (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[10] Brayer, Pueblo Indian Land Grants of the “Rio Abajo,” New Mexico 96 (1938).